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Paint Application Studies of Jackson Pollock's Mural

Scientists from the Getty Conservation Institute attempt to recreate the method and materials used by Jackson Pollock to create his monumental painting, Mural. Created by Getty Museum.

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  • orange juice squid orange style avatar for user Jon Winder
    What is the importance of determining a vertical versus horizontal application of the paint?
    (7 votes)
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    • purple pi purple style avatar for user Residuum
      I think it's mainly curiosity. Pollock's art seems to prod the curiosity of viewers as his paintings can be large. And how he could even get to the center of some of these is something people ask. With modern art the "how was it done?" seems to be as important as the painting itself. Why that is exactly, I do not have an answer for. Just adding my two cents.
      (4 votes)

Video transcript

(lively music) - [Voiceover] To many people, Jackson Pollock's painting technique is quite unique. With Mural, we felt most of the colors were applied with the canvas upright. Paint is being splashed and thrown at the canvas despite most of it being applied in this fairly conventional way with a brush. But one paint, this pink, stringy paint really aroused our suspicions. It had a certain consistency, it hadn't dribbled down the canvas, there was no indications as the other splashed paints that the painting had been vertical. But it really wasn't clear how he could have done this. It's an enormous canvas, we know from his own recollections and Lee Krasner, his future wife, that they had to tear down an interior wall to make space for this 20 foot wide canvas and even though there would have been space perhaps just to squeeze in horizontally, it would have been so tight it's very hard to imagine how he could have reached into the middle of the painting to apply these very delicate areas in the way that he did later on, where he was literally stepping on to the canvas. It would have been quite exciting had we found a very early instance of the canvas going horizontal four years before he really turned to this technique. But in fact, we found that a regular oil paint, if it's manipulated or it is thinned slightly with turpentine, but more importantly, boiled oil is added to the mix, it has a very different consistency to regular thinned oil. When it's flung at the canvas, the paint would land on the canvas often in these shapes where you had really intricate, very thin airs of paint often in figures of eight and beautiful curves. It does develop these very, very fine beads of paint and streams of paint, they land on the surface and they don't drip down and it was a really sort of amazing moment where we realized it must have been done vertically. (lively music)